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Citrix Technology Helps Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Succeed in Formula One


Written by David Marshall

The world of Formula One Racing is dynamic and ever-changing, with Formula One teams becoming increasingly reliant on technology, with sensors, servers, connectivity, and cybersecurity solutions becoming more and more crucial for enabling the analysis of data to improve cars and race day strategies. Work happens at lightning fast speeds where shaving off milliseconds can be the difference between winning first place or having an off-podium finish. Succeeding in Formula One is no longer simply about the car's build, driver and mechanics team, but now includes measuring, analyzing, and developing large amounts of data, repeatedly. 

"Everything we do is data driven," said Matt Cadieux, CIO of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.  "It's all about the data."

Citrix and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, four-time winners of the FIA Formula One Driver and Constructor World Championship, have had a long-standing business relationship, working together since 2007. The software giant provides the racing organization with several key services. Citrix powers a better way to work by delivering the experience, security and choice that a partner like Aston Martin Red Bull Racing can rely on to unlock innovation and productivity. The components of the Citrix workspace provided to Aston Martin Red Bull Racing are Citrix XenServer, Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix Netscaler.

Speaking to VMblog while in Austin, TX prior to the North American race at the Circuit of the Americas,  PJ Hough, Citrix Chief Product Officer, said the relationship between the two organizations had reached a new level back in January 2017, with Citrix becoming an official innovation partner of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, with the Citrix logo proudly emblazoned on the nose cone of the race car and below the driver's safety halo.

Today's Formula One can be considered analogous to a technology arms race.

Each car is equipped with more than 120 sensors spread out over the car during testing and racing, compiling information on performance and conditions, and monitoring all sorts of telemetry data across the vehicle like tire pressure, brake temperature, airflow and air pressure, engine temperatures, pressures and timings, all generating roughly a terabyte of data over the course of a race weekend. All of which needs to be analyzed in real-time, giving Aston Martin Red Bull Racing the opportunity to quickly make changes as needed to the car or to their driving strategies. That data also gets fed back to the engineering department at the team's HQ in Milton Keynes UK, where it is used to refine the cars throughout the season and update the development of next year's cars.

In 2018, Formula One racing team members find that they each need to be technically savvy. FIA rules limit racing teams in the number of workers that they can take to each race, so teams cannot afford to send a high number of IT staff. Aston Martin Red Bull Racing operates in an extremely diverse environment with up to 60 key personnel traveling globally almost every two weeks of the year. Citrix technology improves employee productivity by providing a secure and flexible workspace for all employees anywhere in the world. This allows the up to 750-person workforce the agility to do their jobs quickly and seamlessly, regardless of location. 

The team uses Citrix's XenDesktop and XenServer offerings to access and analyze large amounts of crucial data from the cars, allowing engineers to collaborate in real time, no matter where they are in the world, and make key decisions quickly to optimize on track performance.  XenServer and XenDesktop make it possible for graphically-intensive engineering data to be viewed and manipulated from remote locations. Engineers at the track frequently work on car setup with new components delivered directly to them - some of which are straight out of the production facility, with new designs never before seen. With remote access to 3D CAD drawings, engineers can optimize the build and make key decisions quickly.

The race team work on virtual desktops (VDI), so no matter where they are located around the world, team personnel can work quickly and seamlessly, as if they were back at their home base in the UK. Citrix technology enables key engineers working from the UK to access data in real-time as it arrives in the garage at the circuit, using track side compute to number-crunch and post-process the data to save time. This can prove invaluable for troubleshooting and getting answers quickly during on-track sessions, resulting in some of the most crucial decisions across the Friday and Saturday sessions as the team prepares to race.

The data being created in Formula One racing is extremely high value. 

And as such, this information needs to be guarded like the gold at Fort Knox. "We're capturing and transmitting some really high-value IP day to day, and securing that is a huge concern for us," said Cadieux. "We have to make sure we're keeping things under wraps and making sure it's confidential."

Citrix helps improve the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team's IT security, helping to centralize operations in a small number of hubs. But Cadieux also stated that the need for data-access controls cannot slow down the pace at which the team needs to operate in order to be successful. 

External threats exist too, from other teams who might want to capitalize on that data as well as third parties looking for a ransomware payout. "Because of the amount of data we create and the value of that data, we tend to be a high target," Cadieux said.

Citrix virtual desktops also help by removing the need for extra physical laptops, each of which could contain important data, which can be lost or stolen. Virtualizing helps protect the team from harm should any physical laptop actually be lost or stolen, or if hit by a cyberattack.

Benefit is a two-way street

But this partnership doesn't just benefit Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. Hough told VMblog that working together has helped further Citrix's own technology. 

Many of the new features and technologies being created at Citrix find their way into the racing team's environment first, almost like an external beta tester.  As an organization with dynamic, fast-paced, flexible, and agile requirements with such a large amount of data, and a strong need for anytime, anywhere access, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing provide a perfect environment to showcase the things that work. 

"Lots of things that we do with the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team are really pushing the envelope," said Hough. "And that benefits all Citrix customers. If we can make something work in the Formula One world, we can make it work anywhere."

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing also has a strong relationship with Citrix on an engineering level. Beyond just using the technology on a regular basis, the racing team also enjoys access to thought leaders developing new products as well as people who help the team implement new technology and productionize it. 

As an example, in the last 12 months, Citrix said that key areas of development included: 

  • Scaling out 3D technology across the business, both in the Linux and Windows worlds to support race team engineers dealing with the most demanding workloads
  • The adoption of the latest Citrix NetScaler, allowing the race team to deliver data and applications more efficiently and more securely
  • Citrix Unified Gateway Technology allows users to remotely access applications in Aston Martin Red Bull Racing's hybrid cloud environment in a user friendly and secure manner.

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing is also working with Citrix on app-layering, which allows the IT team to manage the deployment and lifecycle of core business applications in a more efficient way, enabling the team to be the most productive at all times.

So the next time you're watching a Formula One race, think about the data and technology that goes on behind the scenes... and let that help push your excitement level up another few RPMs.


Published Tuesday, November 13, 2018 7:39 AM by David Marshall
Driven by Data - Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and Citrix Renew Partnership : @VMblog - (Author's Link) - November 1, 2019 2:26 PM
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